In July, I attended my first ever national RWA conference, and I learned A TON. Mostly I attended sessions on craft and on diversity, rather than about the business end of things, since I’m still so new to this world. Writing good books that make the world just a little better is my first goal. Being “successful” by the more external standards isn’t something I’m aiming for yet. (Yet.)
But I met a bunch of authors that I read exuberantly, and most of the interactions were totally thrilling and beautiful. A few had some jarring, off-key moments that taught me a little something about how I want to behave, when I, too, am a published author with readers approaching me:
- All Readers Matter. When somebody comes up to you and says, “I’m so excited to meet you, I really enjoy your books!” that person is important and exciting. I met one author who smiled at me and said, “Aren’t you sweet?” in a sort of condescending kind of… it was yucky. It was only when I went on to say that as a woman with a Ph.D. I really appreciated having women scientists as heroines that she perked up and said, “Oh, you have a Ph.D?” as though that made me more worthwhile as a reader. Note to self: all readers matter.
- Don’t Shit-Talk Your Own Books. (Or Anyone’s). I didn’t hear anyone shit-talk anyone’s book but their own, but I totally heard one of my very favorite authors say – and I quote – “I hate that book,” about one of her most popular books, a book I reread periodically because it’s so well constructed. Note to self: there are readers who love that book that frustrates you.
- If Nominated for a Rita, Write an Acceptance Speech Because You Never Know. I’m pretty much just quoting this one verbatim from an author who won, but hadn’t written a speech because she was so sure she wouldn’t win. Note to self: of course you won’t win, but write a speech anyway. Just write it for yourself, if nothing else, to remind yourself how lucky you are and how many amazing, supportive people are in your life.
Anyway, I was in the middle of edits on the second novel, How Not to Let Go, and I’m absolutely sure that everything I learned about craft has made that a better book than it was before I revised it.
That’s an understatement. Actually I’m TOTES EXCITED about it and can’t stop talking about it and I hope other people enjoy reading it half as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it. It’s nearly finished, and then I’ll start on my next thing, which I’m also pretty excited about.
Can you tell I find writing exciting?